The Philippines has banned two US senators from entering the country, and has threatened to impose visa requirements on American visitors if Washington applies sanctions against Filipinos involved in the imprisonment of an opposition figure.
Duterte has ordered the Immigration Office to deny entry of US Senators Richard Durbin and Patrick Leahy to the Philippines, said presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo.
The two senators had introduced a provision in the US national budget prohibiting the entry of government officials involved in the alleged improper detention of opposition senator Leila de Lima on charges of illegal drugs in the United States.
“If an entry ban is applied to Filipino officials involved in or because of the lawful imprisonment of the Senator from Lima. This government will require that all Americans intending to come to the Philippines apply for and obtain a visa before they can enter Filipino territory, ”said Panelo.
He noted that Durbin and Leahy were compelling, uninformed and gullible to believe that de Lima had been unjustly imprisoned.
“The case of the Senator from Lima is not a matter of persecution but of prosecution,” he said. “In fact, it is already heard by our courts.”
De Lima has been detained since February 2017 for allegations that she was rewarded by illicit drug lords imprisoned when she was head of the Ministry of Justice. She denied the allegations and accused the Duterte administration of political persecution.